HONOLULU (KHON2) — A nationwide vaccination effort was launched on Sunday, Dec. 13. Doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine were cold-packed and prepared for shipment Sunday morning at the pharmaceutical corporation’s plant in Portage, Michigan.

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The first set of trucks began moving the vaccine to airplanes, taking the doses to UPS and FedEx hubs. Those doses are set to be delivered to more than 600 locations across the country.

Food and Drug Administration (FDA) officials say safety checks will remain in place even after the vaccine is distributed.

Lieutenant Governor Josh Green says he expects Pfizer’s vaccine to arrive on Oahu on Monday.

“I’m almost certain it’s going to land at cargo at Honolulu International Airport,” said Green. “They’re sending someone from the CDC to make sure that we have received the vaccine, that (it has) been kept cold and it’s been processed appropriately.”

Many are hoping the COVID-19 vaccinations will bring back a sense of normalcy. The state says they’re prepared to distribute the first shipments once they arrive. Lt. Gov. Green says the first batch will be transported to certain hospitals where high-risk healthcare workers will be among the first in the state to be vaccinated.

“We let the hospitals manage their own risk, so that they can get the people, who are, I think, front facing COVID the most, the vaccine first,” he said.

Green says the state will start vaccinating people a day or two after delivery.

“I don’t think that they want to unpack immediately like my kids unwrap their Christmas presents as soon as they get their eyes on them,” said Green. “We’re going through the protocols to have people sign up on, essentially the website that has been established with the federal government. So they’ll be doing kind of like appointments.”

Green says he believes neighbor islands will be getting the vaccines in the second week of distribution.

“We’re following whatever the feds were able to do as far as shipping direct. Needless to say, I think that the neighbor islands and Oahu should be treated exactly the same as possible. But some of this stuff is a little bit out of our control,” he said.

State officials say they plan to distribute an expected 81,000 doses in December.

“I look forward to seeing exactly how many trays come in. My understanding was 13 trays was what we had and are hoping for, but the test order was 5,000,” Green shared.

“Residents and staff in long term care facilities are also top priority. In Hawaii, CVS and Walgreens will be administering the Moderna vaccines to them which has yet to receive FDA approval,” he added.

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